September 7, 2012

Atsa Team Successfully Fits Observatory Camera in XCOR Spacecraft (Source: PSI)
Planetary Science Institute scientists and undergraduate students from The Citadel and other South Carolina colleges visited XCOR Aerospace in Mojave, California, to fit the Atsa Suborbital Observatory Mark I camera in an engineering model of the Lynx Mark I spacecraft. The Atsa project will use a reusable suborbital spacecraft equipped with a specially designed telescope to provide low-cost space-based observations above the limiting atmosphere of Earth, while avoiding some operational constraints of satellite telescope systems such as the inability to observe objects close to the sun. (9/8)

Does Triton Have a Subsurface Ocean? (Source: Astrobiology)
Triton was discovered in 1846 by the British astronomer William Lassell, but much about Neptune’s largest moon still remains a mystery. A Voyager 2 flyby in 1989 offered a quick peak at the satellite, and revealed a surface composition comprised mainly of water ice. The moon’s surface also had nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide. As Triton’s density is quite high, it is suspected that it has a large core of silicate rock. It is possible that a liquid ocean could have formed between the rocky core and icy surface shell, and scientists have investigated if this ocean could have survived until now. (9/8)

OPF-3′s Conversion Into Boeing’s C3PF to Begin on September 10 (Source:
The removal of work stands in Orbiter Processing Facility -3 (OPF-3) will begin next week, as the former home to Shuttle orbiters is converted into the new processing facility for Boeing’s future crewed spacecraft, CST-100. The conversion is expected to take a year, as the OPF changes call signs to the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF). The start date for the conversion of OPF-3 follows the announcement last October of a 15 year lease deal, agreed between NASA and Space Florida – the State’s aerospace economic development agency. (9/8)

Warm-up Almost Over for Curiosity (Source: Florida Today)
NASA’s Curiosity rover limbered up its robotic arm on Mars this week, bringing it closer to the start of its scientific mission to measure the planet’s potential for sustaining life. One month after the rover’s arrival, mission managers and scientists said Thursday a critical commissioning phase is coming to a close. Robotic-arm checkouts are expected to be complete within a week. Then Curiosity should be ready to rove. And if all goes well, Curiosity will head toward an area inside Gale Crater where three intriguing types of terrain intersect. (9/8)

Rocket Launches Scheduled Sep. 8-15 From Wallops In Virginia (Source: NASA)
Two Terrier-Lynx suborbital rockets are scheduled for launch September 8 -15 for the Department of Defense from NASA's launch range at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Based on the approved range schedule, the first rocket is scheduled between 8 and 10 p.m., September 8. The backup launch days are September 11 and 12. The second rocket is scheduled for launch between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m., September 15. The rockets may be visible to residents in the mid-Atlantic region. (9/8)

President Obama Says, "I am 100 Percent Committed to NASA and its Future (Source: Huntsville Times)
In the detailed, three-page statement, the president takes credit for "an ambitious new direction" for the space agency. Regarding the Space Launch System, the statement says NASA's new heavy-lift rocket being developed in Huntsville is part of the president's space strategy. "Support for the Space Launch System (increased) by 1.5% in President Obama's latest budget request," the statement said, "and the system continues its steady progress - in July, SLS completed its preliminary review, allowing the program to continue ahead to its preliminary design phase." (9/8)

Japan's H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI3" Departure from ISS Upcoming (Source: JAXA)
Schedules of departure from the International Space Station (ISS) and of re-entry to the atmosphere for the H-II Transfer Vehicle "KOUNOTORI3" (HTV3) are determined as follows. It is confirmed that there is no obstruction to proceed the departure and re-entry by using primary attitude control thrusters, while the backup thrusters will not be available due to the failure that occurred before berthing to the ISS. Departure from ISS is scheduled for Sep. 13 and atmospheric re-entry is planned for Sep. 14. (9/8)

New Insurance Underwriting Agency for Space Risks (Source: Assure Space)
Assure Space, LLC, a new space insurance agency for satellite risks, is excited to partner with Auster Capital Partners ("ACP") and Space Florida for the provision of launch and in-orbit insurance to satellite operators worldwide. Assure Space has agreements with participating insurers that grant it authority to act as their intermediary and perform a range of responsibilities on their behalf. These include identifying and evaluating world-wide space insurance opportunities and underwriting insurance commitments.

The team that Assure Space has assembled provides it with a broad range of insurance and space expertise that will position it to take a leading role in the insurance of space assets throughout the world. Richard Parker, former space underwriter and technical director at AXA Space, leads Assure Space. Assure Space benefits from the extensive underwriting heritage of Richard, who has over 25 years of experience in the space industry having also held senior positions with the European satellite manufacturer EADS Astrium and satellite operator Intelsat. (9/8)

Editorial: Hold That Shuttle (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
President Obama's campaign recently put out a list of actions he's taken to support the "space community." The president, planning a visit Sunday to Florida's Space Coast, should add another item to his list, and delay the departure of the shuttle Endeavour from Kennedy Space Center. Endeavour is now scheduled to leave KSC en route to its retirement home in Los Angeles atop a 747 on Sep. 17. That's just five days before the start of the Cocoa Beach Air Show, an annual two-day event that normally draws more than 100,000 spectators. (9/8)

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